Florida Poems

I grew up in Florida and know the state has many layers. It’s a complex place with a long history, going back to ancient indigenous civilizations and early Spanish explorers in search of treasure and the Fountain of Youth.

Florida gets a bad rap in the media and recent events haven’t helped dispel the reputation of the state as a place where people do crazy things. When I was 12, I began to write about it. What evolved was a long poem, “The Sailor Circus,” named for the Sarasota high school afterschool circus program (which still exists). In my 20s, an agent encouraged me to write a novel based on the poem, but she later decided not to take it on. For many years both the poem and novel languished among my papers and computer files. A few years ago I used much of it in a novella, Covenant: Growing up in Florida’s Lost Paradise. These past few weeks I added in more of the original words, adapting them when needed to fit the narrative. And then, I took parts of it and made this poem. I’m offering it to give people a different perspective on the great state, the elusive and always transforming, place called Florida.

Florida

Visions of Atlantis.
The trading ships of the world come into harbor,
bringing their gift, their legacy.
Sailing, circling, orbiting, we ride the tides,
before we merge with the fold and mantle of sea and sky, 
will we circle around to the other side,
     will we come back alive?
The resort town lies weblike on Florida’s Gulf Coast,
banyan roots in backland glades,
points of anchorage, where gravity takes hold,
rolls the city up each night like a window-shade.
Each morning beneath a peg-leg, pirate's sun,
the land unfurls, surfaces beneath the surface of the sky.
Mirages and miracles: buildings, beaches, marinas, 
     alligator farms, the circus. 

White pelicans mirror the clouds, 
moonflowers glow, passion vine 
and coral bells flourish, herons nest,
and a mockingbird sings of paradise. 
Ghost towns in morning glory and dust, 
carnivals and suburban malls in the marshes.
On the southern Gulf Coast, burial grounds
     of forgotten civilizations.

Echoes of Atlantis. 
Lost worlds, new worlds spiral, drop,
      rise and soar in a divine glare.

Gulf Coast’s angels’ wings and rare Juno shells,
a sea of dreams, with all things sailing
we navigate by the sun and moon,
flowing into ports of call, 
sailing with grief and ecstasy,
     the circuitous circus.

The trading ships of the world come into harbor,
bringing their gift, their legacy—
the heavy vessels of the past empty their holds
and are refilled, flowing to the future with a purpose—
we carry precious cargo: hope, love.
Swinging across the globe, in tumult and calm,
we circle with the joy of fulfillment in time,
creating designs so potent
     they shape eternity.

Copyright 1974-revised 2022 by Mary Clark

The song, “A Salty Piece of Land,” by Jimmy Buffet, who pioneered Caribbean Rock’n’Roll in Key West, Florida, communicates the allure of a place, the sense of freedom, on the boundless sea.

Mary Clark’s fiction and poetry, all set in Florida:

Children of Light, poetry novel, Ten Penny Players/Bard Press

Covenant, Growing Up in Florida’s Lost Paradise (kindle only)

The Horizon Seekers, Amazon/Kindle

Racing The Sun, The Horizon Seekers Series Volume 2, Amazon/Kindle and Smashwords

End of Year Sale of Two of My eBooks

Two of my ebooks are on sale now through January 1, 2022 on Smashwords.

Both 50% off, multiple formats

Community: Journal of Power Politics and Democracy in Hell’s Kitchen

Community is a memoir of community work and politics in Manhattan during the turbulent 1980s and 1990s as one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods fights the effects of “development fever” and the illegal drug trade. Meanwhile, ambitious politicians vie for dominance behind the scenes. 

Racing The Sun

Leila Payson’s adventures in the present and the future continue as she deals with a new man in her life, her eclectic crew of friends, and a possible career change. There’s accidents, wheelchair races, and love tours. Lives are impacted by DNA matches, surrogate mothers, and cults, as well as love and friendship. For Leila and her friends, the horizon beckons. Volume 2 of The Horizon Seekers.

My 4 Kindle Books #Holiday Sale

Four of my Kindle books on Amazon are 99 cents from today until midnight December 27th: two novels, a novella, and an illustrated epic poem.

The Horizon Seekers

A woman who lives both in the future as well as the present, Leila Payson strives to realize her visions. As a Miami high school teacher, she hopes that when her students fly, they’ll see beyond the horizon to where imagination and courage can take them. In her own life, she is haunted by early trauma, a failed romance, and a more recent loss. She doesn’t dwell on the past, though she learns from it, and instead challenges herself to be a better human being. Early in her teaching career, she goes to South Africa for a year, where she meets Baruti, the therapist who works with people with disabilities. When she returns, she puts what she’s learned to use. Raoul, a student, is losing his hearing and asks for her support. This begins the next step of her journey. All the while an attractive man with a book keeps appearing at her favorite places.

Excerpt:

As Leila drives to school, she is in a world of shining buildings. Doors are at ground level or have moveable ramps. She looks at the open space, trees, and people on foot or sitting in compact pods that pass quietly. The most visible part are the people. Calm, smiling, in apparent good health, they move through a landscape designed to accommodate the natural beauty around them.

Where is this? she wonders. What has happened? A couple walk on what appears to be a continually moving mini-magical carpet. Next to them, a child rides, a child with dark glasses. Blind?

Leila presses a button, and when a portal opens, she realizes she knew that would happen. The couple pause, hovering on their carpet, which is malleable enough to form fit their feet.

“Where is this?”

‘The vine community.”

“What city?”

“Miami.”

“And um, I know this sounds odd, but what year is it?”

“We don’t think in years anymore. It’s the fourth quadrant. But if you want you can convert that to November 2084.”

“And your daughter, is she blind?”

“Yes.”

“I thought that could be engineered out.”

“We chose not to.”

When Leila leaves the pod in a recharging slip, she walks to the school, and notices the building has changed. Gone is the brick and concrete and prison-like windows. It looks like wood and glass in artistic arrangement, a peaked roof on one section holding solar panels.

She tells herself it’s a vision. A look at an alternative life, at the future. It’s not real. Not yet anyway. To test this hypothesis, she touches a glass window. It feels hard, cool.

Walking into the school, the hallways revert to 2015. She shakes her head in disbelief. Am I losing my mind?

No, she decides. If I’m able to envision this, it might exist. Part of me is already living there.

Racing The Sun

In Book 2 of The Horizon Seekers Series, Leila Payson’s adventures in the present and the future continue as she handles with humor and the right mix of patience and impatience a new man in her life, an eclectic crew of friends, and a possible career change. She and her bf Caroline discuss aliens, panspermia, and artificial intelligence. She is surprised by a DNA match and changes in her family. Leila works on her new disability group, envisions playgrounds of the future, and aids Doug, a young man who is designing next gen wheelchairs. Haunted by a terrible memory, she hears a familiar voice in a crowd but can’t locate the man who’s spoken. Are some things simply never resolved? In that vein, her friend Dov travels to Cuba to see his lover, only to be rebuffed. But the others in the group are inspired to work on that; will they succeed? Another friend’s father is injured in a car accident. His adjustment to life as a disabled person intersects with Leila and Doug’s endeavors. At her school, Leila organizes a big tent meeting to discuss complaints in response to the rumors of a renegade guidance counselor. Meanwhile, Leila enlists the erstwhile Maria to help investigate the guidance counselor’s mysterious sister. Returning for a short visit to South Africa, she reunites with her mentor, the disability advocate Baruti. And finally, driving across SA to see the native flamingos, she discovers what Doug meant when he said he was “racing the sun.”

Covenant

Four children discover their Florida paradise has many layers. They become friends in changing times, which see the advent of the Civil Rights movement and rock’n’roll. Below the surface in their family lives, they find heights of hope and dreams, and dark secrets and nightmares. And they form a covenant which is challenged unexpectedly as they reach the threshold of freedom.

From the Prologue: Echoes of Atlantis. Old worlds bloom anew, spiral, drop, rise and soar, in a divine glare. Harsh angles appear in our lives, surfaces, beneath the surface of the sky: buildings, beaches, ranch houses in the pine forest and sand, alligator farms, the circus. Mirages and miracles, stringent salt and pungent seaweed, ghost towns in blue-eyed grass and dust, piano notes played by the flowering orange setting sun, we breathe the fresh bouquet of the lemon haze, emerge to the sweet melodies of dawn. And when, beneath a bright spotlight moon, the ships ride the midnight tide—sailing, circling, in concert with the fold and mantle of sea and sky, will we come back alive? Will we circle around and make it to the other side?

Children of Light

Dia, a young girl who lives on an island with her mother, discovers a boy who says his name is La-ha-ta, living in the wild. She brings him home. A kindly neighbor, Miss Pacer, befriends them. The Old Man of the Island fascinates and sometimes advises the children. La-ha-ta is placed in a group home. He escapes with Dia’s help, to be recaptured later and held in a detention center. He escapes and after a journey through wild Florida finds refuge in a small isolated community near the Everglades. Over the years, the children’s bond deepens. They seek relationships that will not compromise the integrity of others or themselves. One man hunts La-ha-ta, hoping to study him. Another boy, Eric, joins them, but must follow his own path. When Dia and La-ha-ta are captured, it seems all is lost. If they escape, if they survive, what will their relationship be, and will one or both return, and to what degree, to society?

Will we learn to live in society which allows each of us to have a personal recognition of reality and also a shared consciousness that accepts diversity and even conflict without physical violence, brainwashing or bullying, and exploitation? The active presence of those who are compassionate and reflective is essential. One character represents the calm values of Jesus, another is the initiator of the good, another the conflicted soul, another is flawed with hard-earned wisdom, and another the constant, the “charming gardener.”

Mary Clark has brought us an achingly beautiful chain of poems that both watch and listen: the sun, the sea, the darkness, the light, the passing of time—and the people who live among them. — The Reverend Barbara Cawthorne Crafton

Racing The Sun: Diane Denton’s Review

Thanks OODLES to Diane M. Denton for her review, written with her usual sensitivity and insight, of my book, Racing The Sun. Here’s the review:

Racing The Sun Book Cover Small 1

“Racing the Sun” is …. a novel with conscience, its protagonist, Leila Payson, living professionally and personally with a sense of urgency, yet not adverse to pausing here and there in appreciation of simpler moments. This engaging narrative is full of conversations of purpose and planning, framed by a sense of place and belonging, but, also, exploration, drawing the reader into a diverse community of friends, colleagues, and new and unexpected acquaintances who support and challenge each other and, ultimately, discover collaboration – that “wealth of experience”- is the way to make positive things happen.

Mary’s writing reflects Leila’s “changes in speed and direction” while following her through transitions of gain and loss, work and leisure, friendship and love. Leila is an alert woman, who literally and metaphorically is ready to slow down for those ducks suddenly crossing the road. Practical and sentient, she realizes on both levels—to quote Mahatma Gandhi—she must be the change she wants to see in the world.

This second book in the series is as vibrant with interesting characters as the first. I found it more playful, but never without consciousness of how humans opening their minds and hearts to those seen as weaker through disability or circumstance can strengthen the integrity, effectiveness, and, perhaps, most importantly, the soul of a society.

Once again, Mary Clark offers much to think upon, but not just to think upon. To use the words of Leila’s significant other, Mark, “… we can’t be spectators. We have to act, and to act with ethical courage.”

Racing The Sun on Amazon

Racing The Sun on Smashwords

Racing The Sun on Barnes and Noble

Racing The Sun on booklaunch.io

Author Spotlight – Mary A. Clark

lmnelsonscorner

AuthorSpotlight

Author Spotlight

Welcome back to another Author Spotlight! This week, I’d like to introduce you to Mary A. Clark.

Mary A. Clark was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to parents who lived on the MaryClarkSept2010Rutgers University campus. Her family moved to Florida, where she spent her formative years, and was infused with awe and respect for the natural world. She was also aware of the lives of migrant workers, segregation, and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Upon moving back to New Jersey, she attended a county college and graduated from Rutgers-Newark College of Arts and Sciences with a B.A. in psychology. She had a strong sense of being a misfit, which propelled her to find her own place and occupation. She moved to New York City, and worked at the Poetry Festival at St. Clement’s Church, in the then outcast wilds of the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. For…

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A Perfect 10 With Author Mary Clark

Author Don Massenzio

Today’s perfect 10 interview session is with author Mary Clark. The questions in these interviews are designed to gain more insight into the inspiration, background and strategy of the authors that stop by.

Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10 and look for an exciting announcement regarding all of the participating authors for 2018.


MaryClarkSept2010Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing brings my energy to a new level, as I’m coordinating various thoughts, emotions, memories, points of view, and attention to detail as well as a feeling for authenticity. There’s an emotional background music playing all the time I’m writing. In other words, writing isn’t only a mental exercise, it’s a visceral experience. I’m not fully conscious of the emotional background while I’m writing, but those emotions and feelings act as a sounding board for being as accurate and honest as possible in what I’m trying to convey with…

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A Novel of Conscience

I’m happy to share these words about my novella, Racing The Sun, by Diane M. Denton, whose most recent book is Without The Veil Between, Anne Bronte: A Fine & Subtle Spirit.

Here is what she said:

Racing the Sun is … a novel with a conscience, its protagonist, Leila, living professionally and personally with a sense of urgency, yet not adverse to pausing here and there in appreciation of simpler moments. This engaging narrative is full of conversations of purpose and planning, framed by a sense of place and belonging, but, also, exploration, drawing the reader into a diverse community of friends, colleagues, and new and unexpected acquaintances who support and challenge each other and, ultimately, discover collaboration is the way to make positive things happen.

Thank you, Diane. Collaboration, that is, working together to solve problems and create new ideas and approaches, is needed more today than ever – and yet we are more  distrustful, more easily persuaded by language that divides us. At one point in this book the factions agree to a “Big Tent Meeting.” After some venting, the antagonists eventually agree to sit down and talk.

And Leila asks, “What is the root problem here?”

“It’s that people don’t agree on how we should live together,” Sam said. “Don’t you hear the extreme points of view on TV and radio? You can’t talk about working together, much less compromise, without being ridiculed.”

Leila threw her shoulders back. She felt ready for this. “We have to do it anyway. We start here.”

Racing The Sun on Amazon   Racing The Sun on Smashwords  Racing The Sun on B&N

Racing The Sun Paperback Cover Small

Mystery Mondays: Mary Clark on Exploring Family Dynamics

KRISTINA STANLEY

This week on Mystery Mondays, author Mary Clark is here to talk about her laster novel, Racing The Sun.

Over to Mary…

Exploring Family Dynamics

by Mary Clark

My latest book, Racing The Sun, is interwoven with surprises, some gently delivered, others more brutal. In several cases, accidents change lives. They also bring together people who wouldn’t have otherwise met. The main character, Leila Payson, a Miami high school teacher, finds that occupation not precarious enough; she moves through the world stirring things up, but not with careless force, but instead at a thoughtful pace. But the world has its surprises for her, too. And these come from close to home.

Her father has been looking into his family history at the suggestion of a life coach (who may be more than that). He shows Leila his DNA results and urges her to sign up on the same genealogy site…

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Books for Christmas!

Two of my books in Kindle format are on sale NOW through DECEMBER 26

RACING THE SUN and CHILDREN OF LIGHT

And that’s not all – these can be combined with the paperback – when you buy a print copy of Racing The Sun, you get the Kindle for FREE. The print copy of Children of Light is only $5.99, with the Kindle at .99. Great deals!

         Racing The Sun Book Cover Small (2)                    childrenoflightcoverbardpress

The Pacey Style of Life: Racing The Sun

Racing The Sun Book Cover Small (2)

This short novel has a pacey style, which re-introduces ‘old’ characters with subtle reminders, and admirably handles current social themes.  – David Selzer

#fakenews #rumors #betrayal #familysecrets #DNAmatches #Cuba #Latinos #Jewish #Gay #Disabled #Teachers #Cars #Accidents #Cults #Non-Profits #Politics #Aliens

Mary Paperback Back Cover Small

Will Leila take the wheel to control the speed and direction of her work, and her life?

Racing The Sun is available on Amazon and Smashwords

   Racing The Sun on Amazon                                   Racing The Sun on Smashwords

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